A 16-year-old Pakistani Christian boy has been charged with blasphemy for talking with a colleague about his belief in Jesus, the second such incident in a month.
Shahzad Masih, 16, a cleaner at a hospital in the city of Dinga (near the religiously conservative city of Gujrat), was arrested on July 13 after his colleague, Ishtiaq Ahmed Jalali, accused him of insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammad, a crime punishable with death in Pakistan.
A month earlier, on June 15, Ashfaq Masih, 28, was arrested in the nearby city of Lahore for saying he believed Jesus to be the final prophet.
The latest incident took place at the Shameem Riaz Polyclinic. Jalali, who works at the hospital pharmacy, is a member of Tehreek-e-Tahfuz-e-Islam Pakistan, an organization that strives to protect the name and honor of Muhammad. It belongs to the Barelvi school of Islamic thought, which is considered “moderate” and has even faced criticism from other Muslims for its “polytheism” of worshipping at shrines. Barelvis are known for the special respect they afford to Muhammad—more so than any other Islamic school of thought—and are chief supporters of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
Shahzad Masih’s father, Shafaqat, who works as a laborer, told World Watch Monitor that the argument related to whom Christians worship.
“My son told him that we follow Jesus and then their discussion became sour, at which point a doctor intervened and calmed them down,” he said.